Dr David Baker BSc PhD
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David completed his PhD in 1988 at the University of Hull on the molecular biology of the intestinal parasite Giardia lamblia. He then moved to the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine to work with Prof. Geoff Targett on the sexual stages of the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum. Current research is focused on investigating signal transduction pathways that regulate development of the most serious human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum.
I am involved in various aspects of teaching the MSc in Molecular Biology of Infectious Diseases (MBID) and am currently the Deputy Chair of the Board of Examiners for this degree course.
I am currently the Research Degrees Director for the Faculty of Infectious and Tropical Diseases (since April 2008). In this capacity I play an active role in recruitment and monitoring the progress of our ~150 research degree students. The post also involves reviewing regulations and procedures relating to our research degree programmes at a faculty and institutional level.
David Baker’s research group uses biochemical and genetic approaches to study the cyclic nucleotide signal transduction pathways of malaria parasites. The cyclic nucleotides cAMP and cGMP perform a whole spectrum of cellular functions in diverse organisms. Earlier work from other laboratories suggested that both of these second messenger molecules may play roles in malaria parasite differentiation. Our studies have focused on the cyclase enzymes that synthesise cyclic nucleotides, the phosphodiesterases that degrade them, but also on the protein kinase that is activated by cGMP (PKG). We have found that in Plasmodium falciparum cGMP and PKG play an essential role in triggering the formation (gametogenesis) of mature sexual parasite forms which are required to transmit disease to the mosquito vector. As part of a collaboration we also showed that this pathway is important for the development of the ookinete form of P. berghei within the mosquito. It is now becoming clear that cGMP signalling and the PKG enzyme are vital for multiple parasite stages, because using specific PKG inhibitors in conjunction with inhibitor-insensitive transgenic parasites we have demonstrated that asexual blood stage schizogony cannot progress if this kinase is blocked. Recently, with others we have shown that PKG functions upstream of a protease cascade and a calcium-dependent protein kinase (CDPK5) that are also required for asexual blood stage schizont rupture and merozoite egress. Since drug resistance is a huge problem, we are investigating whether cyclic nucleotide signalling pathways could be exploited in the development of novel antimalarial drugs.
David became an Affiliated member of the EVIMalaR European Network of Excellence (www.evimalar.org) in 2010.
- Drug discovery and development
- Cell biology
- Molecular biology
Disease and Health Conditions
- Infectious disease
- Cell Signalling
Malaria Parasite cGMP-dependent Protein Kinase Regulates Blood Stage Merozoite Secretory Organelle Discharge and Egress
Collins, C. R.; Hackett, F.; Strath, M.; Penzo, M.; Withers-Martinez, C.; Baker, D. A.; Blackman, M. J.
Plos Pathogens, 2013; 9(5)
The role of cGMP signalling in regulating life cycle progression of Plasmodium.
Hopp, C.S. ; Bowyer, P.W. ; Baker, D.A. ;
Microbes Infect, 2012;
Spatiotemporal and Functional Characterisation of the Plasmodium falciparum cGMP-Dependent Protein Kinase.
Hopp, C.S. ; Flueck, C. ; Solyakov, L. ; Tobin, A. ; Baker, D.A. ;
PLoS One, 2012; 7(11):e48206
A plant-like kinase in Plasmodium falciparum regulates parasite egress from erythrocytes.
Dvorin, J.D.; Martyn, D.C.; Patel, S.D.; Grimley, J.S.; Collins, C.R.; Hopp, C.S.; Bright, A.T.; Westenberger, S.; Winzeler, E.; Blackman, M.J.; Baker, D.A.; Wandless, T.J.; Duraisingh, M.T.;
Science, 2010; 328(5980):910-2
Structure and non-essential function of glycerol kinase in Plasmodium falciparum blood stages
Schnick, C.; Polley, S.D.; Fivelman, Q.L.; Ranford-Cartwright, L.C.; Wilkinson, S.R.; Brannigan, J.A.; Wilkinson, A.J.; Baker, D.A.
Molecular Microbiology, 2009; 71(2):533-545
A cyclic GMP signalling module that regulates gliding motility in a malaria parasite
Moon, R.W.; Taylor, C.J.; Bex, C.; Schepers, R.; Goulding, D.; Janse, C.J.; Waters, A.P.; Baker, D.A.; Billker, O.
PLoS Pathog, 2009; 5(9):e1000599
The malaria parasite cGMP-dependent protein kinase plays a central role in blood stage schizogony.
Taylor, H.M.; McRobert, L.; Grainger, M.; Sicard, A.; Dluzewski, A.R.; Hopp, C.S.; Holder, A.A.; Baker, D.A.;
Eukaryot Cell, 2009; 9(1):37-45
Gametogenesis in Malaria Parasites Is Mediated by the cGMP-Dependent Protein Kinase.
McRobert, L.; Taylor, C.J.; Deng, W.; Fivelman, Q.L.; Cummings, R.M.; Polley, S.D.; Billker, O.; Baker, D.A.;
PLoS Biol, 2008; 6(6):e139
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